Weaver's Week 2002-08-24

Weaver's Week Index

24th August 2002

Iain Weaver reviews the latest happenings in UK Game Show Land.

In the week when ukgameshows.com named The Definitive Best British Game Show, Ever, this also happened:

- Cheap but not grotty

- Mud fights and a familiar format

- The hit reality lawsuit


The Final: Keele 1969 -v- Sidney Sussex Cambridge 1979

Eyes down, here we go, and is that a mascot I see on each desk?

Aubrey Lawrence starts by interrupting Thumper half way through the definition of "Lingua Franca," and Nicholas Graham responds halfway through the lyrics to "My Perfect Cousin" and it's going to be a very high-scoring week. His early buzz means Thumper doesn't get to read out the next line, about UC.

"We should have asked for thirty thousand, there is only one college of this type..." John Gilmore, SSC: "Girton" Thumper (amazed): "How did you know *that*?" Gilmore: "It's easy when you know the answer."

David Lidington helps to spot three of four "People's Peers." They're in the Lords, he's in the Commons right next door.

By the first picture bonus, Thumper has yet to complete a starter question. That some of them drone on and on, and on and on, and then on some more, for almost twenty seconds doesn't help. If you want to ask into which bay the Loire flows, ask that question; don't give the entire life story of the river from when it was a tiny mountain stream. Once again, SSC is running away with it, though Keele's knowledge of the Bach brethren helps claw back the deficit.

Keele tries to derive SI units from the basic components. One member helpfully comments "I don't even know what they're on about." These are people born circa 1950, educated under the old Imperial system.

Starter 14, about an Indian cricketer, is the first one that Thumper gets to complete. He also completes the very last starter of the show

Thumper asks about the former Conservative MP who died earlier in the year. The current Conservative MP gets this one, and one about the Lib-Lab pact. He's being bowled some easy balls tonight.

By Toutatis! Keele doesn't know that this deity was sacred to the Celts, not the Ancient Gauls. Apart from Asterix and Obelix and their indomitable village. SSC's doctor knows for what "superbug" MRSA stands. Keele goes 0/4 on ballet positions.

After the final picture round, Keele is yet to go 3/3 on any set of bonuses; SSC has correctly answered at least two of every set. Both records go straight afterwards; this is the key to the eventual victory, 375-185. Stephen Fry presents the trophy, one to each member of the winning team.

In an amazing show of egalitarianism, SSC's personal totals are: Gilmore 93, Adams 96, Lidington 92, Graham 94. Lawrence topped for Keele with 64. Keele made 17/33 bonuses and two missignals; SSC an amazing 41/52 with two missignals.

KLE 35 40 60 25 25 [185]

SSC 95 60 65 45 110 [375]

But wait, there's more! 40 YEARS OF UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE looks back at the most memorable and entertaining moments. With contributions from Stephen Fry, John Simpson, Stuart Maconie, Miriam Margolyes, Kate Sanderson, and Julian Fellowes, along with Bambi and Paxo. 2000 next Monday for an hour.


David Dickinson is the host. Remember the name, you'll need it later. He wears sharp suits, has a permatan, and is slightly older than Ms Robinson. The press reckon he's a modern Lovejoy, after the title character in the antiques-slash-detective show of the same name from about ten years ago.

For those who haven't seen the show in daytime, or on UK Style, or on export, the format is not tricky. Two teams of two - one wearing red fleeces, the other blue - are given a wodge of cash. In primetime, it's £500; in daytime, a mere £200. They're assigned an expert - there to advise, not to cajole - and set loose round an antiques market for two hours. A week or two later, their acquisitions are sold at auction. The team that comes closest to making a profit wins. And, er, that's it.

In essence, this is the traditional "acquire as many tokens for the endgame as cheaply as possible" format again. See also: THE CRYSTAL MAZE. Unlike Reckless Rick's show, there's no messing about with coloured tokens, just a simple cash total that anyone can understand.

The experts help the viewer to understand what it is the team is looking at, and how they reckon it might do in the auction. The viewer can figure who has made a shrewd purchase, and who has bought a turkey. In an added twist on the primetime version, the viewer is invited to call in at premium rates, predict the biggest profit, the biggest loss, and potentially win something from the televised market. It's easier than winning something old from William G. Stewart, I suppose. The delay while the viewer calls rather spoils the flow of the show.

The auctioneer is invited to give his opinion on the goods before they're sold off.

What is the appeal of this show? Part of it lies in the traditional British love of old things - we've had ANTIQUES ROADSHOW touring the country for more years than I care to remember, and knick-knacks on the box have always been a draw. Part of it is DD, very much a larger than life character, who never misses an opportunity to be slightly camp. He's proven very popular with students, and for some reason reminds me of Alex from BB3. And part of it is the auction: in small doses, an auction can always make decent television.

Whatever the reason for its success, this show has quietly become the zeitgeist hit of the moment. It's a welcome addition to primetime.


Sheryl Crow performed to the inmates at US BIG BROTHER 3 last week. Opinions are split: was this a reward challenge, or a punishment challenge?

ROLLERCOASTER WEEK ON RI:SE this week. One quizmaster (Al Convy, who I think is also a comedian) and two contestants. Competitors ride a rollercoaster, quizmaster tries to ask five questions while the ride is in progress. Most correct answers wins. It's not rocket science, it's over within five minutes, and it's silly enough to last a week. But no longer.

Amongst those quoted when jailbird Jeff Archer turned up for work at a theatre in Lincoln this week was a Mr Nick Bateman. He was villain of the week exactly two years ago, after being booted from the house of BIG BROTHER. It set me thinking about having a Convicts Special of BB. Invite such felons as Lord Archer of Badliterature, Jonathan Aitken, and Leslie Grantham to spend a week or two in the most famous prison in the UK. Anyone know if Neil and/or Christine Hamilton can apply yet?

The Monkey is very concerned that D-LIST CELEBRITY SURVIVOR isn't seen to be a flop. SURVIVOR 1 was generally regarded as a flop, and while SURVIVOR 2 wasn't seen to be a flop, that was mainly because it was barely seen. To assuage the concern, ITV has been advertising its new hit constructed reality show that no one's seen yet on other television channels, including Rupert Murdoch's KY1. This is the first time that this leading television channel has promoted its shows on satellite channels.

In the US, the ABC has picked up THE MOLE for a third series, and a short celebrity run. In the UK, we have our tapes.

Promos for THE CHAIR air on the Beeb. Alison from BB3 will be filmed round the clock for a slimming feature on THIS MORNING. Kate will appear on a syndicated evening radio show in the first week of September. Alex will not advertise hair products. Two weeks of fame remain.

The Independent reports that a libel solicitor is talking with "between seven and nine" Constructed Reality Show participants. The sometime stars believe their career prospects and personal lives have been blighted by "selective editing" of their televised antics. He says they have been left "damaged" and prone to paranoia and depression. The group includes at least five from BIG BROTHER 1 and 2, with at least one from CASTAWAY and SURVIVOR 1. ITV may have a get out there: for damage to take place, someone must have seen the offensive acts. An Endemol rep said: "We take more care than any other reality programmes [over] after care. All the contestants are assessed by psychiatrists to ensure they're mentally robust."

By Friday, BBC's LIQUID NEWS had picked up on the story, Endemol said that none of the contestants had contacted them, and the company still took lots of care with the contestants. Stuart from BB2 appeared on the show and said "hello" to his kids.


This week's primetime WEAKEST LINK is a Bachelor's Special. 1940 Sa, followed by WINNING LINES at 2030.

D-LIST CELEBRITY SURVIVOR tips off at 2000 Su on ITV, repeated 2230 and 2000 Mo on ITV2. The regular slot is 2100, from Monday. The ITV2 followup programme, D-LIST CELEBRITY SURVIVOR NOW airs 2200 from Tuesday.

Not only is Monday the celebration of UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE, but it's also the grand final of Radio 4's MASTERTEAM. 1330, repeated Sa 2300. As that door closes, the one marked X opens. X MARKS THE SPOT returns Wednesday 1330: this week, David Stafford, Hilary Kay and Robin Simon try to find the thingamejig.

SWAPHEADS include Eminem -v- WW2 fighter aircraft and ABBA -v- monkeys.

There's no COUNTDOWN scheduled for Monday, thanks to the Men In White. Vintage Richard and Carol may air if India has won by then, or it's wet. Monday is a public holiday in England. The FIFTEEN TO ONE final is repeated at 1530 Friday.

Tuesday's daily WEAKEST LINK is a seaside special, with all the contestants from Blackpool. It would have aired on Monday, only someone decided to send them all down on the train. Thursday's is a Students' Special, readers can insert their own joke here.

This week's LIAR went to prison. The special guest is theatre tea boy Jeff from Lincolnshire.

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